Wednesday, July 06, 2005


"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." -- Mark Twain

To illustrate Twain’s point, the following statements were collected by a friend from emails from other friends and colleagues.

-- When you start a war on false pretenses, and then act as if your deceptions are justified because you are doing God's will, and that your critics are either unpatriotic or lacking in faith, there are some of us who have given our lives to teaching and preaching the faith who believe that this is not only not moral, but immoral.

-- When you live in a country that has established international rules for waging a just war, build the United Nations on your own soil to enforce them, and then arrogantly break the very rules you set down for the rest of the world, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you claim that Jesus is the Lord of your life, and yet fail to acknowledge that your policies ignore his essential teaching, or turn them on their head (you know, Sermon on the Mount stuff like that we must never return violence for violence and that those who live by the sword will die by the sword), you are doing something immoral.

-- When you act as if the lives of Iraqi civilians are not as important as the lives of American soldiers, and refuse to even count them, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you find a way to avoid combat in Vietnam, and then question the patriotism of someone who volunteered to fight, and came home a hero, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you ignore the fundamental teachings of the gospel, which says that the way the strong treat the weak is the ultimate ethical test, by giving tax breaks to the wealthiest among us so the strong will get stronger and the weak will get weaker, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you wink at the torture of prisoners, and deprive so-called "enemy combatants" of the rules of the Geneva convention, which your own country helped to establish and insists that other countries follow, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you claim that the world can be divided up into the good guys and the evil doers, slice up your own nation into those who are with you, or with the terrorists -- and then launch a war which enriches your own friends and seizes control of the oil to which we are addicted, instead of helping us to kick the habit, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you fail to veto a single spending bill, but ask us to pay for a war with no exit strategy and no end in sight, creating an enormous deficit that hangs like a great millstone around the necks of our children, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you cause most of the rest of the world to hate a country that was once the most loved country in the world, and act like it doesn't matter what others think of us, only what God thinks of you, you have done something immoral.

-- When you use hatred of homosexuals as a wedge issue to turn out record numbers of evangelical voters, and use the Constitution as a tool of discrimination, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you favor the death penalty, and yet claim to be a follower of Jesus, who said an eye for an eye was the old way, not the way of the kingdom, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you dismantle countless environmental laws designed to protect the earth which is God's gift to us all, so that the corporations that bought you and paid for your favors will make higher profits while our children breathe dirty air and live in a toxic world, you have done something immoral. The earth belongs to the Lord, not Halliburton.

-- When you claim that our God is bigger than their God, and that our killing is righteous, while theirs is evil, we have begun to resemble the enemy we claim to be fighting, and that is immoral. We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us.

-- When you tell people that you intend to run and govern as a "compassionate conservative," using the word which is the essence of all religious faith-compassion, and then show no compassion for anyone who disagrees with you, and no patience with those who cry to you for help, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you talk about Jesus constantly, who was a healer of the sick, but do nothing to make sure that anyone who is sick can go to see a doctor, even if she doesn't have a penny in her pocket, you are doing something immoral.

-- When you put judges on the bench who are racist, and will set women back a hundred years, and when you surround yourself with preachers who say gays ought to be killed, you are doing something immoral.

-- I'm tired of people thinking that because I'm a Christian, I must be a supporter of President Bush, or that because I favor civil rights and gay rights I must not be a person of faith. I'm tired of people saying that I can't support the troops but oppose the war. I heard that when I was your age, when the Vietnam war was raging. We knew that that war was wrong, and you know that this war is wrong--the only question is how many people are going to die before these make-believe Christians are removed from power?


This article appeared in Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 7.

Two Planets at Work Here

By Dr. Mohammed T. Al-Rasheed

While the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)plays out Hollywood fantasies in real time and real space,there still are people who argue whether a woman should drive a car or not.

I really don’t understand how or why blasting a comet should lead us to learn more about our origins, but I have full faith that it will.

Why? Because the people working on this matter don’t care for interpretations of anything and deal with solid scientific facts.

The rest of us have to interpret everything. And interpretation is mightier than any original material we deal with. Human history says as much.

Holy books, for example, are standard issue, yet the interpretations abound and still pour forth endlessly.

While watching the NASA event on television, there was Billy Graham on Larry King Live peppering his answers with “I spoke to God and he told me”.

The Arab News in front of me was loaded with articles about women driving a car without anyone asking why she is allowed to ride a camel and not drive a car. Fourteen hundred years ago, the camel was the Hummer of high society.

It seemed to me that there are two planets at work here and not simply one. NASA was on one, Graham and Arab News on another. How can you argue or ask anything of someone who claims he “speaks to God” as you and I speak to each other?

The Bible tells us that “speaking” to God is not that easy nor is it possible for anyone who wants to. Even the pope does not claim that right for he knows better.

Communicating with the deity is one thing, actually talking or speaking to God is quite another.

Mysticism and logic are not easy bedfellows, as Bertrand Russell tried to explain in his famous tome, but one would think that common sense could prevail.

The same mechanism applies to those arguing against women driving. They do not see the logic of it and try to mystify us with anguished proclamations. In their convoluted way, they are trying to tell us: “Trust us on this issue because we spoke with the Law.”

In reality, they are working hard to keep women as subjects and not partners. This is what I call a NASA truth: A woman can fly into deep space and come back, but she can’t drive to the supermarket.

In very broad terms, interpretation is divided into two schools: The literal and the metaphorical. Erroneously, in my view, we know them in political terms as “Liberal” and “Conservative.”

Worse, we give directions: left and right. For some odd reason, Marx’s interpretation of History puts him on the left, and Billy Graham finds himself on the right. In my view, anything or anyone who proclaims and refuses to discuss is dead center in the frozen part.

If you don’t believe me ask yourself this simple question: Which one of the two schools of interpretation is likely to have adherents who will summarily denounce another human being to death, or blow themselves up and others to prove a point?